Face masks and kids: Who needs them, where to find them, & how they should fit

Unmasking common misconceptions in the 'new normal'

MADISON, Wis.– At first they were just for doctors and nurses. But now, the CDC is recommending we all cover up and wear face masks in public, especially as states like Wisconsin slowly reopen.

Wearing masks is an adjustment for everyone— especially kids. The CDC says all kids above the age of two should wear face masks outside. Some places, like grocery stores and theme parks, are requiring them. But the younger the child is, the harder it can be to get them to wear a mask and keep it on.

There are a number of ways parents can help their kids feel more comfortable around masks. Pediatricians recommend making them the ‘new normal’ at home. Leave face masks around your house, so your kids see them frequently. Encourage your kids to practice taking them on and off, and even wear them inside your home. Face masks can look a little scary, especially if you’re small, so using them while playing will make them seem less daunting.

Some pediatricians recommend playing ‘doctor’ with your kids, having them wear a mask while they look after you or their favorite stuffed animals. Kids also like to take ownership of things, so if you have a supply of single-use masks at home, let them draw on them, and show off their designs the next time they’re out in public.

If you still need to buy masks for your kids, a growing numbers of companies are selling ones specifically for kids. Disney is one of the latest companies to join the list. It is selling Frozen, Star Wars, and many more themed-designs. But with demand so high, the masks are only available for pre-order now and don’t expect to ship until July.

Luckily, other retailers like Walmart already have masks in stock for both kids and adults. Amazon is also selling masks from a variety of companies.

Most disposable masks cost around $1 apiece, while high-quality, reusable masks cost between $10 and $20.

So what makes a mask high-quality? According to a study by Wake Forest Baptist Health, the best-performing masks are made of high-thread count quilter’s cotton (180 or more) — offering protection comparable to surgical masks.

Reach out to the seller to find out if your mask meets that requirement. If it doesn’t, you can add a coffee filter to your mask. If you’re going out in public, it’s a simple, cost-effective way to give your family extra protection.

You can also determine whether you’ll need that extra protection by doing a “light test” on your mask at home. Hold your mask by a light and see how much light gets through. The more light passes through, the less protection you’ll get.

One final note: you can have the best-performing mask on the market, but it won’t matter if it doesn’t fit your face properly. Your face mask should go from near the bridge of your nose to down under your chin, and it should stretch at least halfway towards your ears.